Meet the Breed Monday ~ July 2020

NormanIt’s Monday and we hope the weekend was tickety-boo. While you’re rubbing the sleep out of your eyes and heading into a brand new week, let’s  ‘budge up’ and have a good chinwag about this month’s edition of “Meet the Breed.” Norman here. Elsa and I argued chatted up which breed we wanted to look at and finally decided to look no farther than within our own family for a good look at a very cool breed, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, often called as “Chessies.” Rudder and Axel are mum’s nephews and just moved into a new mountain home not far from rivers and streams, a Chessies dream world. You can visit their blog here.

Chessies

Blimey! Look at that boy’s take off! That handsome, athletic fella is Rudder. Can I just say… mate, my golly! You think he can give me loads of advice on water fun?

To say Chessies are “water dogs” is a bit of an understatement. This American original embodies all that is valued in retrievers. They’re loyal, upbeat, affectionate, and tireless and well known for their waterproof coat. Rudder is always ready for retrieving sticks or rocks thrown into nearby streams.

Chessies

Chessies are strong, powerfully built gundogs standing anywhere from 21 to 26 inches at the shoulder with males weighing between 75 to 100 pounds. The distinctive breed trait is a wavy coat that is oily to the touch. Chessies are solid-colored, either chocolatey brown, sedge, or deadgrass, with keen yellow-amber eyes that nicely complement the coat and live between 10-13 years.

Chessies
Adorably cute Axel as a puppy

Chessies are more emotionally complex than the average gundog. They take well to training, but can have a mind of their own and can tenaciously pursue their own path. Protective of their humans as well as polite, they may not be openly friendly toward strangers. Chessies make excellent watchdogs and a well-socialized Chessie makes for a confident companion and hunting buddy.

Chessies

So how did this breed originate you ask? Seems that during the 19th century well-heeled owners of the duck clubs that lined the shores of the Chesapeake Bay  began breeding the breed we’ve come to know today. It’s believed that Newfoundlands, Irish Water Spaniels, and other hounds of undetermined origin were among the breed’s early genetic mix. By the time the AKC was founded in 1884, a definite “Chessie type” had been established.

To understand this breed, one needs to know a bit about the area from where they originated. Two key features to the 200-mile-long estuary surrounded by Maryland and Virginia factor into why Chessies were developed. First, the Bay is relatively shallow with a low capacity for storing heat allowing water temps to get down to around freezing in early winter and stay there until spring. Secondly, Bay’s location lies along the “Atlantic Flyway,” a flight path taken by ducks and geese to their winter homes. Every year the Bay hosts a good third of all migratory waterfowl wintering on the East Coast of the US.

Hunters used these features to breed a dog who is well-suited to the Bay’s frigid water and visiting waterfowl. The thick, oily, double coat of a Chessie  not only insulates, but it is waterproof as well. Repealing moisture much like  duck feathers do and broad chest acts much like a plow against ice floes while the powerful hindquarters with large webbed feet enable him to swim tirelessly against the Bay’s windy conditions. Ideally equipped for retrieving, Chessies are a reliable, indefatigable dog possessing a ‘soft mouth’ ensuring the hunter that his retrieved fowl will remain intact upon retrieval. I’m guessing the Ninja wouldn’t make a very good retriever since she manages to chew ears and feet off all my toys, despite her own breed’s soft mouth. *sigh

Chessies are real charmers being perceptive and sensitive and make excellent therapy dogs. With their strong ability to follow scents, they do brilliantly in search-and-rescue work or drug and bomb detection. Dashing good looks and athleticism definitely give these blokes a definite leg up in show rings as well as in a variety of dog competitions.

Chessies
Ruddy and Axel living the good life

Hope you enjoyed meeting mum’s ‘nephews.’ Have you encountered these athletic dogs before? Mum says if you are interested in featuring your own breed in the coming months, be sure to contact her. I’d love to tell all my mates about your good dog. Cheerio!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 6, 2020

OES

Sometimes trimming the bangs is needed between grooms. Rocks in particular are grateful, aren’t they Norman?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Fostering and Rescuing – A Book Review

As you probably know I’m very passionate about rescues (both Norman and Elsa were rescued) so when I was recently provided an opportunity to review a new book by best-selling author, Cara Achterberg, I jumped at the chance. Yes, we’re talking about THAT Cara Achterberg, author of Another Good Dog. Squeals! Ms. Achterberg is one amazing upright who has taken dog rescue advocacy to a whole ‘nother level. Reviewing One Hundred Dogs & Counting One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues” being released on July 7, was just something I couldn’t pass up.

Book review
Cowgirl author and rescue advocate, Cara Achterberg

For anyone not familiar with Cara, she is an award-winning writer, blogger, and consummate dog rescue champion. I was keen to review her latest book which explains the ins and outs of rescue work like nothing I’d ever read before and I learned so much about the behind-the-scenes work of rescuing and shelters. Who knew the public perception of shelters and the private reality could be so disparate?

One Hundred Dogs & Counting follows the footsteps of Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. Cara’s latest book began as a mother/son trip into the world of ‘dog pounds,’ private rescues and some of the most desperate public shelters around that most people are completely unaware. I had no idea how the world of shelters and rescues worked. With humor and deep compassion, Cara writes the book every dog lover needs to read and provides a remarkable journal how shelter dogs end up with a rescue and some of the heartbreaking details as to why some do and others don’t. This book offers hope in the face of unthinkable heartache, limited resources and long odds toward success. It also provides a narrative of hope shared by a cadry of real heroes working with limited resources in shelters and rescue groups while providing you an opportunity to help by sharing its message.

With generous praise and gratitude for her family, Operation Paws for Homes (OPA), the group with which she fosters dogs, numerous directors, rescue coordinators, Animal Control Offices and countless volunteers, Cara takes you through just what a “no-kill” shelter is. She provides a terrific resource list giving readers an opportunity to help in exposing the quiet reality of too many shelters by crafting a remarkable story with a heartfelt plea. As dog lovers and pet bloggers, it’s up to use to educate people of the all too familiar goings on in cities and towns across the country. As she puts it: let’s all work toward bringing Gandhi’s words to fruition.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.

Book review

Be sure to put this book on your summer reading list and order your copy of this remarkable rescue journey and spread its powerful message today. The Ranch Hands enthusiastically give it a 4 out of 4 paw endorsement. 🐾🐾

Book review

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meet the Breed ~ June 2020

NormanWell, well, well…would you lookee here. It’s time for another Meet the Breed Monday. Norman here. What breed shall we take a gander at this month? How about the ubiquitous and beloved Golden Retriever? More than a few of our readers are Golden owners but this month’s background was supplied by our friend, Michael over at Golden Kali. Michael has three “Golden Girls” and entertains us with wonderful posts so you might want to click the link to visit his lovely blog. So let’s get started and learn about this wonderful breed.

Golden Girls
Golden Girls

Developed by the first Lord Tweedmouth (aka Dudley Marjoribanks) during the years 1840 through 1890, the aristocrat sought a dog suited to the rainy climate and rugged terrain of the area, so he crossed his “Yellow Retriever” with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. Irish Setter and Bloodhound were also added to the mix during the 50 year period. Thus the Golden Retriever we now know arrived as an enduring gift to the dog kingdom from a hunt-happy aristocrat.

The Golden, as affectionately known everywhere, was first shown at a British dog show in 1908.  The breed began arriving in America, by way of Canada, around the same time. Sport hunters liked the breed’s utility while show breeders loved their beauty and are impressed by their sweet, sensible temperament. Males generally weigh between 65-75 lbs. while females are somewhat smaller at 55-65 lbs.

Golden
Kali

There are three main types of Golden Retrievers.

  • The British type (like Kali) has a broader head and muscular chest with a usually lighter coat referred to as cream or blond with heavier ‘feathers.’  Their eyes are round and dark.
  • The American type (like Kloe and Koda) are less muscular with a red or golden coat and moderate feathers. They are very agile, have a powerful and well coordinated gate with brown but slanted eyes.
  • Canadian Goldens have a thinner coat than their American counterpart and may be mistaken for a Golden Lab.
Kloe
Kloe

Goldens are very versatile. While often known as bird dogs, they make excellent family members. Goldens are frequently used as service dogs for the disabled, search and rescue dogs and are even tempered, intelligent, and very affectionate. They love to play and will retrieve balls as long and as often as someone will throw it for them.

Koda
“Baby” Koda

We got ourselves another ‘foodie’ with this breed. The only thing Goldens love more than playing and romping is food. Being food motivated, Goldens are quite eager to please their owners thereby making them easily trainable and highly adaptive to most home environments.

Goldens do need lots of exercise, especially puppies and younger dogs.  A good 30 to 40 minute walk each day in addition to playtime and training will make for a content dog who is then less likely to get themselves into mischief.

Goldens are gentle with children, puppies and get along with just about everyone they meet. Goldens are not typically considered guard dogs but will bark to alert owners of trouble, or perceived trouble. They are more likely to show a burglar where the family jewels are hidden than to attack.

The Golden Retriever’s life expectancy is typically 11 to 12 years and sadly, more than 60% of the breed succumb to cancer. Hip dysplasia is another common medical problems Goldens face.

Golden retrievers shed and require regular brushing. Like all dogs shedding dogs, regular grooming helps minimize floating hair and mats.

Goldens are one of the more popular breeds in the U.S. Did you know that two Goldens occupied the White House-Gerald Ford’s dog, Liberty and Victory whose human was Ronald Reagan. More recently, Elizabeth Warren’s Golden “Bailey,” was a frequent visitor to her campaign events, and was caught on camera swiping a burrito from a staffer’s hand. Like I said, these dogs are definitely ‘foodies.’ While “Daniel,” the 2020 Westminster Dog Show audience favorite did not win Best in Show, he did win the Sporting Group. Goldens continue to be popular crowd pleasers and are regularly featured pets in commercials and movies.

Well there you have it. Many thanks to Michael for sharing background info on these great family dogs. Do you have any experience with these ‘golden’ beauties? Check back next month for another breed. If you’d like your good dog’s breed highlighted, please shoot us an email.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Cruel Ironies

Our recent conspicuous absence has been the result of a life-threatening emergency. While I’ve not commented on your posts, be assured I am doing my best to keep up with what’s going on in your world in between moments of waiting and wondering at the outcome of this emergency.

You may be wondering what happened? In a truly cruel twist of irony, on the third month anniversary of Sam’s crossing the Bridge, last week Norman suffered a gastric dilation and volvulus event, an ominous medical syndrome known as GDV. Commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, this horrific condition occurs when the stomach dilates, then rotates or twists around the short axis cutting off blood supply to vital organs. My previous Standard Poodle before Sam, McKenzie, died from bloat so I’m sadly all too familiar with the symptoms and heartbreak. Gastric rotation includes progressive distension of the stomach in the form of gas and increased pressure within the abdomen, resulting in damage to the cardiovascular system, with decreased perfusion (the process of delivering nutrients via blood in the arteries to the body’s tissues) which can lead to cellular damage and organ death. Quick emergency action is required whenever GDV strikes-to delay can be life-threatening.

What exactly are the symptoms of GDV? According to PetMD, symptoms of GDV syndrome are: “anxious behavior, depression, abdominal pain and/or distention, collapse, excessive drooling, and vomiting to the point of unproductive dry heaving.” Upon physical examination, rapid heart beat (tachycardia), labored breathing (dyspnea), weak pulse and pale mucus membranes of the nose and mouth often accompany the other symptoms.

While the exact causes of GDV remain unknown, there are general factors that likely increase the risk, including genetics, anatomy, and environment. Highest at-risk dogs are large and giant breeds, particularly those with deep-chests breeds such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Standard Poodles (with high rates of mortality). Other factors contributing to the development of GDV include ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water, delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system, and too much activity following meals.

GDV must be treated through surgical intervention with the untwisting of the stomach which is then tacked to the body wall to prevent it from twisting again (known as “gastropexy”). The vet expressed some concern the spleen may also have been impacted but he did not see any damage in Norman’s case, despite a 180º degree twist and internal stomach bruising. While dogs can survive without a spleen, potential heart damage through the lack of blood flow may complicate recovery.

For those of you who may be squeamish, you may want to scroll down before viewing this stem-to-stern incision. I’ve assured Norman that ‘chicks dig scars’ so he isn’t feeling too self conscience about it.

Norman
Stem-to-stern incision

Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, I was not permitted to visit Norman following his surgery but received frequent phone updates for the first two days (ok, it was me that pestered them all hours of the day and night) but they understood my concern and took my hourly relentless calls with kindness, patience and caring. He survived the surgery; the vet thought there was no lasting damage to the spleen or any apparent heart damage based on his visible examination of the organs during the surgery which gave me hope but the next few days would be touch and go. With that large belly incision, it’s clearly apparent this was a very serious surgical intervention. And understandably, he refused to eat after coming out of anesthesia. Norman never passes an opportunity for a meal so I knew he was in some serious pain. The staff finally allowed me to take him for a very brief few steps on a potty break outside late Saturday evening. It was hoped my presence might encourage him to eat a few bites. With traces of anesthesia still in his system, he was somewhat confused, heavy-footed and wobbly. He finally ate a few bites Saturday night and was deemed sufficiently dischargeable late the next afternoon.

Again in another irony, on the one day of the year when it rained buckets around here in otherwise dry Denver, I was able to bring the big guy home to nurse and pamper following extensive post-op instructions. He’s taken well to the pampering and promptly became a food critic…refusing to eat the bland diet of rice and chicken prescribed. If rice even touched the chicken, he refused eating it. After consulting with the ER staff, they agreed small, frequent meals of plain chicken without rice was better than nothing. As a long time vegetarian, it was beyond surreal having packages of deboned, skinless chicken breasts in my kitchen. For years, I’ve said I’d eat beef before I ever ate chicken again, the mere smell of it makes me nauseous. But nursing this sweet boy back to wellness was far more important than any olfactory discomfort on my part so I held my nose, cooked, and chopped the chicken into small pieces for him. As of today his appetite has mostly returned, with him enjoying frequent but small meals throughout the day.

The dreaded e-collar has vexed Norman as he continues to improve. Sheepdogs have a bear-like shuffle and often their heads sway back and forth in rhythm as they move. With the cone on, it crashes into furniture, walls, doorways, and the back of my knees with painful regularity. With encouragement and patience, he is beginning to gain the necessary confidence to navigate better with it on every day.

I would be most remiss if I didn’t mention the one person in particular helped me throughout this whole nightmare and she knows who she is. This dearest of friends has consistently been my rock and pillar over the years and I am once again deeply indebted to her generosity, love and kindness. Thank you, my friend and thanks in advance to everyone for their support while Norman recoups. It means the world to me. With emotions still raw from the loss of dear Sam, this latest calamity has once again shocked me to the core. It’s been days since I’ve had a decent night’s sleep but will be fine once Norman makes it out of the woods and gratefully accept your well wishes and POTP prayers. With your healing energy thoughts and Elsa’s oversight of his care, I expect him to fully recover and look forward to those smile inducing butt wiggles to rule our days once again.

Yes, life is full of cruel ironies especially in the midst of a pandemic, but this was one that was an even more unexpectedly cruel. As its image in life’s rear view mirror becomes smaller, we move forward. Besides, Norman thinks there’s a new toy that requires some serious attention without the conflangled wrangling with an e-collar that simultaneously gets bad reception and interferes with fun.

Norman
A 30-second moment of normality and then a long snooze yesterday evening

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meet the Breed Monday ~ May 2020

ElsaIt’s time for our monthly column “Meet the Breed.”  It’s me, Elsa, stepping up again this month ready to feature our latest installment of “Meet the Breed.”  So without further delay, let’s meet…the Shetland Sheepdog, more commonly known as “Shelties.”

When mom first started blogging, she became a follower and then friend with Dakota and his mom, Caren Gittleman who was especially helpful in showing her the ropes. Caren suggested loads of tips and tricks that would develop a readership for which she will always be grateful. And Caren was very inspiring to mom when she launched the e-shop. And she has one of the cutest guys in Blogville. I mean, just look at this handsome boy…hubba bubba, dude!

Sheltie

Dakota’s mom, is a free-lance professional blogger who writes blogs Dakota’s Den (about her cute boy) and Cat Chat With Caren and Cody (a blog about cats)  residing in Michigan with her husband, Sheltie Dakota and Cody the cat. While Caren isn’t blogging as much these days, she’s a powerhouse and accomplished blogger in mom’s eyes with Dakota, her beautiful and sweet Sheltie and his fur-brother, Cody the cat. Many thanks to Caren for providing  breed background info on these adorably cute dogs.

Dakota the Sheltie

Now pay attention, Norman and let’s get started by meeting this adorable breed. Often confused with the larger ‘Collie,’ The Shetland Sheepdog, or “Sheltie,” is actually NOT a “mini-Collie” as some people think, they are in fact a completely separate breed. 

Shelties were originally bred on the rocky Shetland Islands, on the northernmost point of the UK. They were employed by farmers to herd sheep, ponies, and poultry (the “Toonie dog” was an old slang name for Shelties, “toon” being a Shetland word for farm). Shelties’ long coat is harsh and straight, with a dense undercoat, and comes in black, blue merle, and sable colors, with white markings. That coat, along with a long, wedge-shaped head; small, three-quarter erect ears; and deep-chested, level-backed torso, give Shelties the look of a rough-coated Collie in miniature but there are significant differences. Shelties weigh about between 14-27 lbs.while Collies weigh 60-75 lbs. Shelties can be prone to  chubbiness, so their weight should be closely watched. There are height differences between the breeds as well:  Shelties run 13-16 inches tall; Collies are between 24-26 inches tall

Shelties do quite well in a large yard but also thrive nicely in an apartment or condo setting because of their much smaller size. Shelties are “alert, active and playful” and like to bark but tend to be reserved toward strangers. They make excellent watchdogs. Shelties will alert the household when strangers show up.  Shelties are high-energy and rank 25th of 195 breeds in popularity according to the AKC and are members of the herding group.

 “Dakota” recently celebrated his 13th barkday and is a brilliant, funny little clown on four legs. His mom tells us that he is a bit of a “thief” (watch your shoes, slippers, anything you don’t want him to have), is sensitive and intensely loyal to “his pack,” which includes mom, dad and tabby cat brother.

That trademark “Sheltie Smile” is quite compelling so if you are interested in an intelligent, active, playful, great family dog who will love you “to the moon and back” then  the Shetland Sheepdog could be just the breed for you.

Have you ever owned one or have stories to share? Next month we’ll showcase another breed. Who could it be? While I’m not giving any clues away, Norman tells me it’s definitely another favorite breed. We hope all you dog-moms had a Happy Mother’s Day and wish everyone a great Monday and ‘wagnificent’ week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 4, 2020

We hope you had a great weekend. I don’t know about you, but suspect like me, you’ve been gravitating toward ‘feel good’ stories and smile inducing social media. If this 2018 America’s Got Talent entry doesn’t make you smile, then you’re either related to the notoriously famous sour-puss Simon Cowell or more likely, you have no pulse. Happy first day of the week. Keep smiling. With loads of shout outs to singing pooches everywhere, I present Oscar.

Live, love, bark 🐾

Meet the Breed Monday ~ April 20, 2020

ElsaWe’ve been a bit derelict in putting this post together and apologize for the lateness. First we couldn’t decide who should be next after Norman introduced this series last month and then I couldn’t get him to focus on picking someone from the submissions we received. He kept thinking treats were wrapped up in the entries. Ugh, brothers! Elsa here ready to share this month’s installment of “Meet the Breed.” So without further delay, let’s meet…drumroll please…Schnauzers, Miniature Schnauzers to be precise.

Schnauzer
Look at this adorable face!

Did you know there are three different breeds of Schnauzers: miniature, standard and giant and each one is considered a separate breed. Our good friend, Princess Xena (click on link to visit her blog) provided much of the 411 for this post. She told us that miniatures range in size from 10 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh anywhere from 10 to 18 pounds. A word to the wise from our Miniature Schnauzer expert: if you’re interesting in this breed, don’t fall for breeders who say they have teacup or toy schnauzers, it’s a distortion of the breed. Schnauzers should be uniform in size; that is the same length from neck to base of tail as they are in height (Xena is 13×13).

According to the AKC, Miniature Schnauzers were bred down from their larger German cousins, Standard Schnauzers. The bushy beard and eyebrows give them a charming expression. They come in four color patterns: salt and pepper, black and silver, solid black and solid white. They were bred to be medium sized farm dogs in Germany, equally suited to ratting, herding and guarding property. The first recorded Miniature Schnauzer appeared in 1888 and they are a member of the Terrier group.

With their working days behind them, today’s Miniature Schnauzer is best known as a friendly, charming companion who continues to be a steady winner in all sorts of competitions.

Miniature Schnauzers are sturdy, clever dogs and enjoy vigorous play. Home and family oriented, they still make great watchdogs and alert their family of any trespassers. Xena says you have to be pretty smart to live with a Miniature Schnauzer or they will outwit you every time. Miniature Schnauzer’s have a strong desire to be with their people and need lots of interaction. They don’t like being left alone and can become bored, inventing their own “fun.” They are active, smart and will happily accompany their uprights on walks or runs. They do equally well in small apartments or on the farm.

SchnauzerMiniature Schnauzers are chow hounds. Left to their own devices, they’d eat a whole bag of kibble. Miniature Schnauzers compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, and tracking. Xena is quite the dancer. Schnauzers have a high prey drive, so ‘tree rats’ should exercise caution when Schnauzers are off leash. Miniatures are consistently rated as one of the smartest breeds and their ability to learn and obey new commands is high. Experts rank Miniatures as 5th among the top 15 breeds for their watchdog barking ability.
Schnauzer
Will you be my friend?

We hope you learned a little about these adorably cute dogs. Have you owned one or have stories to share? Next month we’ll showcase another breed. Who could it be? While I’m not giving any clues away, it’s probably someone else from the Blogville community. Just saying. Happy Monday!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Bedhead Monday

Yawn…please don’t tell me it’s Monday already. Ugh. Think I need a spot of a groom to deal with this bedhead look.Norman

This is no way to usher in a new week. Any chance they make Sheepdog mousse? It’s bad enough that it’s snowing again, but to look this bad on top of it…argh!

Live, love, bark! 🐾